The virtue of Justice


“There can be no daily democracy without daily citizenship.”

Ralph Nadar (1976)

What citizenship is not

Citizenship. Not one of my favourite words. Not quite as bad as “moist”, but it certainly deserves a special mention. Why do I dislike this word which should invoke feelings of patriotism, pride and solidarity? The answer is in the question. People around the world have twisted these words into armaments to bludgeon others over the head with. When I even detect a conversation is going in that direction my eyes glaze over and my mind immediately wanders off to other more pressing matters such as why is the dog covered in glitter. No, seriously, do we even have glitter in the house…?

Apparently, we HAD a pot of face paint glitter. Who knew?!

Back to citizenship

I do not have an issue with the concept of citizenship, only how it has been abused and corrupted. I want to encourage you to take back the word citizenship from the politicians and the hatemongers. Take it back and bring it into the safety of your home. Citizenship has been homeless for some time and during a pandemic of this level, the word citizenship has never been in more need of rescuing. Adopt it like you would a puppy from the pound- impulsively.

As with the puppy, the first place to start is a home inspection. What does good citizenship mean in your house? Who do you live with? Are you alone? Do you have pets? Are you living with a housemate or a partner? Do you have children? Whatever your living situation is, make sure that all living beings within your home are not only good citizens, but that you, yourself are a good citizen to live with.

so what is citizenship then?

According to research, good citizenship requires a sense of obligation towards the common good that extends beyond self-interest. In real terms, it means not being an A##H##E while we are all living in quarantine by taking everyone else’s needs and preferences into consideration, including your own. The common goal during this time is domestic harmony and preservation of sanity whilst preventing the spread of COVID-19.

an example of citizenship

I always use Winnie the Pooh as a relatable analogy to explain strengths. Imagine, living with a bear who gets stuck in ‘hunny’ jars, a pig who is afraid of his own shadow and an OCD rabbit? Those of us living with small children do not have to imagine too hard, because hell hath no fury like a toddler who wants strawberry yoghurt and you only have fruits of the valley. Similarly, those with pets know all too well the joys of the inside-outside game. For those who have not had the pleasure: this is when your pet cannot decide whether they want to be inside or outside and like a slave you are forced to continually get up and open the door.

Still these storybook characters all manage to live in perfect agreement (without chocolate – I ask you?!). They not only live together, but they thrive. Each characters accepts the other within each one’s capabilities and limitations.  No one is forced to conform and they do not direct. Well, Rabbit tries and fails hilariously (yes, I proudly have a dark sense of humour). Instead, the inhabitants of the hundred-acre wood practice the cornerstones of good citizenship, acceptance, loyalty and teamwork. I told you it is not only political. We are not discussing voting preferences or political ideologies.

are you a good citizen?

How this translate into your living environment is up to all of you living together. The key to acceptance is flexibility. You do not have to account for every second of everyone’s day. Share domestic responsibilities, and start those spring-cleaning projects or whatever. Include everyone, even your little people. Probably not reasonable to expect Fluffy to iron the laundry, but you will be surprised by how much even your children can help around the house.

Also, just a thought, if your partner packs the dishwasher in a way that will give you nightmares, go with it, because at least it gives you time to do something else. You know what I am talking about. Again, no judgement. I redecorate the Christmas tree after the children and husband go to bed. In my defense, if you hang the red balls first, you have a much clearer idea of where the gold accents need to be and you do not end up having to endure a patchy tree until January.

How to be a good citizen at home

Write down a list of what must get done (priority list), what should be done (necessity list) and what you would like to do (enjoyment list). Once you have done this allocate time to these list items accordingly. Do not fall into the trap of only doing priority items. Balance your time between all three lists. This goes for everyone. Work on your lists as a group. Keep it an inclusive and sincere discussion. Ensure everyone understands what your list is, allowing everyone their space in whatever way possible. Working together towards that common goal. That is just good citizenship. We do not want anyone being voted off the island just yet.

What happens to citizenship after isolation?

The news is full of recommendations on how you can nationally be a good citizen by staying at home, blah blah blah- I honestly hope that we do not need to discuss that point ad nauseam here as well. If you are literate enough to read my blog, you can read the World Health Organisation’s guidelines and please do. What would be nice is if you take good citizenship that one step further by regularly, DIGITALLY, of course, check in on friends who you know live alone, your grandmother (even though you know she will ask about your love life) or your in-laws just so they can see the children. Be a good citizen on your social media accounts, or WhatsApp groups; you will be surprised to see how other people will become inspired by you and start doing the same. See your positive attitude become contagious. Share your ideas here PLEASE!!!!

Well, that is enough from me for now. Tomorrow we tackle Fairness. Exciting times ahead. LOL. TTFN.

P.S. As we work on what the virtue of justice entails, please have a look at my activity section for this virtue and have fun with the project.


What are strengths and virtues?

A summary from my dissertation.

In this explanation, I do not want to bore you with too much theory. I am trying my best to keep my summary short.

Positive psychology

The field of positive psychology is filled with research that tries to define or quantify happiness. As a result researchers are asking what characteristics lead to an individual’s happiness and well-being. Most noteworthy, is the manual written by Peterson and Seligman. Their manual is all about classifying positive psychology into usable tools. Furthermore, their work includes the largest collection of research. This is why I believe my blog can be useful, because my focus is to explain this system using simple everyday analogies.

How did it start?

Pre-dating 1998, little scientific research explored the role of positive emotions and strengths in the prevention and treatment of mental health. All of this began to change when Martin Seligman became president of the American Psychological Association (Bacon, 2005).

Seligman believed psychology placed too much focus on mental health as an illness. He wanted to encourage research that explored the positive consequences that can come from negative experiences. Seligman and other positive psychology researchers set about redefining mental health in terms of ‘well-being’. What does it mean to be well? Well being is no longer just the absence of illness or dysfunction. To be well is a distinct state of existance with its own traits.

New Classification system

Hence this new line of thinking showed that character strengths are tools that promote optimal functioning. Even in the face of trauma, positive consequences were possible if strengths were utilised. However, there was still a problem of classifying strengths. This is because positive emotions are all so multi-faceted. Therefore, the manual of sanities became such an important tool. Peterson and Seligman’s classification of six virtues and twenty-four-character strengths is the most inclusive classification system in positive psychology. In addition, it provides a legitimate means of referring to strengths in a way that is measurable and therefore makes psychological well-being possible.

What does the classification system look like?

Firstly, there are the six core virtues. These virtues are;

  • Humanity (This virtue promotes altruistic pro-social behaviour)
  • Wisdom (These cognitive strengths involve gaining and applying knowledge)
  • Courage (These emotional strengths necessitate restraint to accomplish goals)
  • Justice (civic strengths lay the groundwork for a healthy community and society)
  • Transcendence (This virtue is about a search for meaning and purpose)
  • Temperance (These strengths promote a virtue of moderation).

Secondly, there are the twenty-four-character strengths that are the core ingredients to well being. Finally, the third level is the one in which habits of behaviour turn into strengths, for instance, optimism and empathy lead to kindness .

In conclusion, do not stress if all of this seems a little confusing. It will become more clear as we go through each virtue. You will see for yourself what I mean, but you are always welcome to ask questions.

P.s. Picture: Irini Simitci-Green